MURFREESBORO — The largest cake in the history of Tennessee was unveiled at halftime Saturday of Middle Tennessee State’s game against Georgia Tech and was on display on the concourse throughout the second half.
For the Blue Raiders, though, the four quarters of football that surrounded that moment were difficult to swallow.
MTSU’s defense allowed touchdowns the first two times Georgia Tech threw the ball. In between was a 17-play drive — all runs — that also ended with a touchdown. That early burst sent the visiting Yellow Jackets to a 49-21 victory Saturday before 30,502, the largest crowd in the history of Floyd Stadium.
“You hate to lose, it’s a sick feeling — part of you dies,” MTSU coach Rick Stockstill said. “… What makes Georgia Tech so tough is what they do offensively. That’s a whole different dynamic in itself. You change everything that you’re doing … what you’ve been trained to do defensively.”
With its triple option attack, Georgia Tech looked — at least in the early going — as if it could do whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted.
Quarterback Tevin Washington threw a 73-yard touchdown pass on the first offensive play of the game. The next possession was a 98-yard touchdown drive that lasted 9:25 and consisted of the 17 straight handoffs. The Yellow Jackets made it three-for-three with another one-play drive — a 71-yard touchdown pass — before the first quarter was finished.
“The thing that bothers me the most is the big plays,” defensive end Jiajuan Fennell said. “I know they’re more of a run offense and we came out playing the run first. I guess they just caught us off-guard with those deep passes. It’s one of those things.”
The deficit was 28 points before MTSU’s offense answered with a score of its own — a 15-yard touchdown run by D.D. Kyles with 3:12 to play in the first half.
Before that, though, the Blue Raiders had their opportunities. Their preceding three possessions ended — in order — with a missed field goal, an interception and a fumble. Each time they were well into Georgia Tech territory.
“I couldn’t be more thankful for the crowd that we had and sorry to all those that were disappointed,” quarterback Logan Kilgore said. “We have a very good team, and I think we have big things ahead of us.
“It’s just too bad that record crowd saw that performance.”
The contest — MTSU’s second straight against a BCS conference opponent — was intended as a major event of the university’s yearlong centennial celebration. It included the cake, a depiction of a corner of the campus that measured 10 feet by five feet and was as many as eight feet high, by celebrity cake artist Jay Qualls, an MTSU graduate who operates his business out of Nashville.
“I’m just disappointed how we played here [Saturday] night,” Stockstill said. “… It was more about us than them. We shot our own self in the foot with the two turnovers [and] the missed field goal, and then the big plays on defense in the first quarter on defense hurt us.”